A wooden gate opened to the sound of a young girl’s giggle.
“Mommy, I want to fly my new kite today.” Molly’s big blue eyes gazed up into her mother’s. She tugged at Anna’s soft hands.
“You can fly it in the park, dear,” Anna replied.
They walked to the park, a grassy hill that overlooked a lake. Molly clutched her new kite proudly, grinning at the sound of a bird chirping merrily. When she looked up into the sky, following the source of the sound, she couldn’t believe her own eyes.
“Momma! Look at the birdie! It’s pink!”
In disbelief, they watched the pink bird land in a small patch of grass, hopping and trying to spread its wings.
“I feel scared,” Molly admitted, watching the bird struggle.
“Let’s get a closer look,” Anna said, securely wrapping an arm around her daughter.
Together they edged toward the bird. Were they dreaming? The bird was bright pink, and if the failed attempts at flight were any indication, it was injured, too. It flapped madly, moving around in circles. “Is it going to be OK, Momma?” Molly asked.
Anna let go of Molly and knelt next to the bird. Gingerly, she reached out and picked up the distressed bird, trying to get a feel for what might be wrong with the wings. Something definitely didn’t feel right—the bird was crusty all over.
“I love her!” Molly shrieked, overcoming her initial worries. The bird managed to fly out of Anna’s hands that instant.
“Molly!” Anna admonished. “Be careful.”
Molly’s eyes danced with excitement as she twirled around her mother. Anna took Molly’s hand and guided her toward the end of the field. A glimmer of fresh water caught Molly’s eye.
“Look Momma, more pink.” Molly pointed to a puddle. The surface shimmered with something pink. Anna bent to examine the puddle. Sure enough, it looked like a splotch of pink paint. After a moment of curious contemplation, she remembered that the area was notorious for teenage pranks, and—even worse—paintball wars. Anna recalled the crusty coating on the bird. Paint. The little bird had likely fallen prey to a game that day.
“Don’t touch the water, Molly,” Anna smiled, brushing kite tails out of the water.
“I want to put my hand in it,” Molly grinned, dipping the kite perilously close to the paint-splotched puddle.
“No, dear,” Anna replied firmly, giving her daughter a quick hug. “We don’t want to get paint everywhere.”
Anna explained to Molly that the bird probably wasn’t really pink—it’d just been inadvertently hit during a paintball game.
“It’s not the boys’ fault, Molly. They probably didn’t know what they were shooting at. Pinky was just in the wrong place at the wrong time today.”
“Jake would never shoot a birdie,” Molly agreed, thinking of her older brother. “That’s why I love him.”
“Exactly,” Anna agreed, squeezing Molly’s hand. “Accidents happen.”
Anna led Molly past the puddle, back through the park, watching the sun dip below the horizon. The sky had turned into a colorful burst of pink. In Anna’s heart she knew it was a day her little Molly would never forget.